Depositions in Divorce: Helpful or Hurtful?
Husband, wife, two attorneys and a court reporter walk into the room . . . “and that’s what she said.”
For some this might sound like the beginning of a joke. A relatively “good” divorce (yes, it’s possible!), is based on transparency and full disclosure. When depositions are necessary, it is likely because one of these is lacking.
Depositions are part of the discovery phase in divorce litigation during which spouses, or litigants, gather information in preparation for trial.
In a deposition, attorneys elicit testimony from witnesses by asking questions; the witness is under oath and a written transcript of the testimony is prepared by a court reporter present during the deposition.
In some situations, depositions may be the most efficient way to gather details from a business owner or understand an expert’s underlying theory to a valuation.
A deposition may be the most efficient way to address a difficult issue in a high-conflict divorce. It is highly unlikely that a party will “win” or “lose” a case based on deposition testimony; but testimony is helpful in obtaining information that makes a critical point crystal-clear.
A deposition also helps attorneys assess the other party’s case and determine the type of witness he or she will be presenting at trial.
Of course, it’s not all wine and roses. Depositions significantly increase the cost of divorce. And elongate the amount of time a divorce can take to reach conclusion.
Anything that extends a divorce case adds additional time, energy and stress to the divorcing parties.
Most participants charge an hourly fee. Each party has an attorney present, and each party’s attorney spends considerable time preparing; sometimes an expert may be present, who is also paid for their time.
And don’t forget the court reporter, whose fees are assumed by the divorcing parties. The transcript itself is expensive and the longer the deposition, the greater the transcript cost.
In trial, emotions are heightened, and the same can happen in a deposition.
Every court case has benefits and costs. It’s imperative to assess what is truly necessary, and forgo what is not, to give everyone peace of mind and swift justice so the outcome is livable and in the best interests of all involved.